Diagnosing Hyperhidrosis

If you suffer from excessive sweating, chances are, you suffer every day. You may constantly worry about how much you’re sweating. You may spend hours each day dealing with sweat - changing clothes, "freshening up", wiping, placing napkins or pads under your arms or in your pockets, bathing, and hiding under dark-colored, bulky clothes. You may have lost friends and opportunities because of extremely sweaty palms, feet, face, or armpits. Afraid of what people will think, you may even make excuses to stay home, or choose careers in which you don’t have to interact with people, shake hands, or give presentations. Emotional problems, including depression, social isolation, and decreased confidence, can result.

In addition to psychological troubles, excessive sweating can also cause painful or irritating skin problems, such as bacterial or fungal overgrowth, infections, and disintegration (also called maceration) of the skin. From physical discomfort, to anxiety, embarrassment, and the stress of always hiding your sweat from others, hyperhidrosis can impact nearly all aspects of your life.To help your physician, your health insurance plan, even your friends and loved ones understand how much hyperhidrosis negatively affects you, it’s useful to think about and keep track of its daily effects.

Print out the following worksheet and use it to keep track of how excessive sweating manifests itself in your life and how sweat impairs your daily activities. Write in your answers to the questions and cite examples. Bring the questions and your answers to your next doctor’s appointment, or use them as evidence of the seriousness of your condition if you need to convince your health insurance plan to cover your treatments. Click here for a printable worksheet of the questions below.

  • How many times per day do you think or worry about sweating?
  • How many times per day do you change clothes? Bathe?
  • Do you carry “supplies” (such as pads, extra clothes, napkins, powders, antiperspirants, or towels) to help you manage your sweat?
  • How often do you have to purchase new clothing or shoes? Do you find that you make such purchases more frequently than other people?
  • How many minutes or hours per day do you spend “dealing” with sweat?
  • Have you tried any topical solutions (antiperspirants, powders, or deodorants) designed to control sweating? If yes, how many different types?
  • Do you ever change your social plans due to excessive sweating or fear of excessive sweating?
  • Have you ever damaged reading or writing material, artwork, paperwork, a musical instrument, or an electric or metallic device due to sweating?
  • Does excessive sweating affect your work performance or career choices?
  • Have you experienced skin irritation or infections due to excessive sweating or your attempts to manage excessive sweating?
  • Does sweating in public cause you distress?
  • When you are in a situation involving contact with other people, or when you think about such a situation, do you experience sweating?
  • Have you ever lost friends or a job due to excessive sweating?

While it's important to document how excessive sweating impacts the quality of your life, it's also key to understand that there are two main types of hyperhidrosis--primary focal and secondary generalized--and your next step is to learn the difference so you can move forward in finding relief.

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